Stihl MS261C - 3 Month Review

stihlfan05

LawnSite Bronze Member
Figured now that I’ve had my Stihl 261 for 3 months and have got 30 hours on it, wouldn’t hurt to review it in case anyone here was thinking about buying one. I’ll also compare it against 2 other 50cc saws I’ve ran a lot, my old 026 and my buddies Husqvarna 346XP.

First off, the power-to-weight of the 261 is hands down better than the 026 and a little better than the 346XP. This saw pulls a 20” full comp B&C without breaking a sweat, lotta torque with this saw. The 346 has more speed in soft or small wood but the 261 pulls ahead in the big stuff. The 026 can’t even compare to this saw.

The M-tronic is great too, I don’t have to worry about tuning the carb, it just does it all for me. I had to tune the 026 for varying weather we got, my buddy has to do the same with his 346.

The 261 is built like a tank, haven’t had any problems with build quality. It’s similar to the 026 and the 346 in that regard.

The saw starts up really easy, 2 pulls and it roars to life. The old 026 was a bit harder, and the 346 is also 2 pulls. I could take or leave the decompression valve, don’t really need it on a saw of this size.

The saw feels really smooth in the hands when you’re running it as is the 346, both make the 026 feel like a jackhammer.

To sum it up, this is the saw I reach for the most, it’s got the perfect balance of power, weight, and comfort. I’d say it’s tied with the 346XP, which is widely regarded as the best 50cc saw Husky made. The old 026 feels like a turd vs the 261. Even if the saw is $600 plus tax, it’s well worth the money.

(Included some pics of the saw in action)
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Crazy 4 grass

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Minnesota
Thanks for the write up. I too ran an 026 for years. Still have it. I picked up a 261c about a year ago. Its light years better than the 026. Smoother, more powerful, way less vibration. I'm really liking mine so far as well. I actually like the decompression valve, makes things just a tad easier. The thing that makes this saw stand apart is its power to weight ratio. Its a pro 50cc saw that has nearly the power of a lot of the 60cc saws out there but without the extra weight. Mine is set up with an 18 inch bar. I'm happy so far with the mtronic system. Takes all the guess work out of carb adjustments. Captive bar nuts are nice as well.

If you don't havd one already, I'd highly recommend the stihl 2 in 1 sharpener. Very intuitive to use and cuts sharpening time in half.
 
OP
stihlfan05

stihlfan05

LawnSite Bronze Member
Thanks for the write up. I too ran an 026 for years. Still have it. I picked up a 261c about a year ago. Its light years better than the 026. Smoother, more powerful, way less vibration. I'm really liking mine so far as well. I actually like the decompression valve, makes things just a tad easier. The thing that makes this saw stand apart is its power to weight ratio. Its a pro 50cc saw that has nearly the power of a lot of the 60cc saws out there but without the extra weight. Mine is set up with an 18 inch bar. I'm happy so far with the mtronic system. Takes all the guess work out of carb adjustments. Captive bar nuts are nice as well.

If you don't havd one already, I'd highly recommend the stihl 2 in 1 sharpener. Very intuitive to use and cuts sharpening time in half.
That 2 in 1 sharpener is a life saver. I’ve got them in 3/8LP for my 020T, .325 for my 261 and 3/8 for the 462.

I agree with just how much better the 261 is, and the 026 was a great saw. The 261 is just that much better
 

Integrity-LC

LawnSite Member
Location
West Michigan
I have the MS261 non M-tronic, have had it for a year and a half now and its simply awesome. I upgraded from an MS250 that I had for 10 years which was a great home owner saw. The 261 weighs about the same as my old 250 but has WAY more power and is much smoother to run. I run mine with a 20" bar mainly so I dont have to bend down as much when limbing/ bucking trees on the ground. I complimented my 261 with the tiny Echo 2511T. That is another awesome saw. Its firewood season here now so these saws are going to be getting a workout soon!

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Quackaddict

LawnSite Member
That 261 is a sweetheart in Sthils lineup. My brother and a good friend have one. We choose .325 chain on my brothers and its a good fit for the small powerhead. He runs an 18" bar and its excellent for small felling and bucking.

I almost wish I hand not bought my 361 because of that saw, id really like to get a 462, sell off the 361 and buy a 261 and have two saws, but the 2K entry into that setup makes me cringe a bit.
 
OP
stihlfan05

stihlfan05

LawnSite Bronze Member
That 261 is a sweetheart in Sthils lineup. My brother and a good friend have one. We choose .325 chain on my brothers and its a good fit for the small powerhead. He runs an 18" bar and its excellent for small felling and bucking.

I almost wish I hand not bought my 361 because of that saw, id really like to get a 462, sell off the 361 and buy a 261 and have two saws, but the 2K entry into that setup makes me cringe a bit.
Keep that 361. It’s got 346 status for good reason. Probably one of the best 60cc saws ever made
 

Quackaddict

LawnSite Member
Without a doubt I will keep it. That saw has been a workhorse since I bought it in 2008. I'd loose my rear on it to trade it for a smaller saw with less power. I will likely just add a 462 to compliment it as it really does not have the juice to run a 24-28" bar in hardwood. Keep the 18 on the 361 and the long bars on the bigger saw would be my plan.
 
OP
stihlfan05

stihlfan05

LawnSite Bronze Member
What is it about the 260/261 that makes it a "Pro" saw?

What makes it a better saw than say, a 271, 290, 311, etc... (The "Farm & ranch saws...) I know that the 261 has the de-comp valve. Is that the only difference?
Split magnesium crankcase. Weight is lower, build is better. Also the cylinder can be ported, can’t do that on the clamshell saws. I’ll probably do some light port work to this and the 462 in the future
 

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